Monday, November 28, 2011

LA's One Story

The other night I had a really weird dream that I was watching Tom Petty videos on Youtube and in doing so learned that he had been making music since the early 1900s. Like, since 1908ish. Inspired by my dream and wanting to reassure myself that Tom Petty was not the 150-year-old inventor of Youtube, I looked up some Tom Petty videos, and while watching this one, "Into the Great Wide Open," I was reminded of how it can seem that Los Angeles only has one story: the famewhore cautionary tale.

Johnny Depp, the weird Mad Hatter all comes together.

And if reality TV and its casualties are any indication, it's not a tale we're absorbing on a personal scale. Hollywood keeps screaming, "Don't come here! Do you have any idea what will happen to your humanity? The things you'll do? I mean, sure, the drugs and money and fame are great at first. And the sex and the mansions... But seriously, don't!" I mean, does anyone get to stay happy for long in LA? Outside of the characters of Clueless?

Norma is perfectly happy, thank you.

But the cautionary tales don't stop anyone. No one believes that they're going to be the next plastic surgery laughingstock or wind up a bitter and forgotten former star or commit a crime no amount of re-imagining can erase. I'd like to think that I, a mousey, jaded, boringly square NorCal girl would be "above it all," but if I moved there, I still might end up blonde, coked-up, and DD in a few months.

This is just a misogynistic stereotype, right? Right?

Of course, the rise and fall of a person by their ambition is a classic story, and one not limited to LA by any means. Johnny Depp's young rocker in the above Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers video could have just as easily been (with few costume and set changes) Lucien from Balzac's novel Lost Illusions. Fellini's La Dolce Vita reminds us why "paparazzi" is an Italian word. And just as this story isn't limited to LA, LA isn't limited to this one story. There's plenty going on in the city and surrounding areas (I assume - again, NorCal girl here) that doesn't have to do with the crushed dreams of (mostly white) wannabe stars. However, the quest for fame and fortune is as quintessentially Hollywood as it is quintessentially human. And since this quest in Hollywood has its own brands of glamor and danger, it's especially alluring. But just because it's a story that's already been told doesn't mean writers can't retell it their own way. And damn, no one does it like Lynch.

No one.

No comments:

Post a Comment